Gout is a form of arthritis or an inflammation of the joints due to too much uric acid in the body. It usually affects the big toe. Contrary to popular belief, food like peanuts, mung beans, okra, and string beans don’t actually make gout worse.
Gout occurs when there is too much uric acid in the body. The body makes uric acid when it breaks down purines, which are found in the body and in food like red meat, seafood, and sugary beverages. Too much uric acid in the body causes the formation of crystals that can build up in the joints, causing inflammation.
Gout usually presents with:• Sudden severe pain in a joint, usually starting in the big toe• Joints that are red, warm, and swollenThe pain may last a few days or even weeks. It may go away and then come back. It often affects only one joint at a time; other joints that are commonly affected are the joints of the other toes, the ankle, and the knee.
In diagnosing gout, levels of uric acid are usually tested. This may involve testing blood, urine, or the fluid within the affected joints. Images of the joint can also be taken using an X-ray or an ultrasound machine. Gout can be effectively treated and managed with medications. Pain caused by gout is usually addressed by medications like ibuprofen, steroids, and the anti-inflammatory drug colchicine. There are also medications used to lower the amount of uric acid in the body; these are usually given to individuals who have had gout for a long time or who have frequent attacks of gout.It is important to see a doctor when one has a painful or swollen joint, since different stages of gout require different medications. Moreover, these medicines may have certain side effects when taken unprescribed.
Lifestyle changes may help prevent future attacks of gout. These include:• Avoiding food and beverages high in purines. These include red meat, organ meats (e.g. liver), certain seafood like shellfish and anchovies, sugary food, and sugary beverages like fruit juices• Limiting alcohol intake (particularly beer and hard liquor). • Exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy weight • Protecting the joints, since injuries can cause or worsen inflammation of the joints